[Editor's Note: Andru Edwards of Gear Live and the Ask Andru column joined us on this week's GeekWire radio show and podcast to share his top picks for technology gifts this holiday season. Here's a rundown of his choices, just in time your last-minute shopping.]
Kindle Fire: Amazon's $199 tablet is often compared to the iPad, but in many ways it's more appropriate to compare it to the iPod touch, based on the price and feature set. If you want a cheap tablet that can ship to you by Christmas, the Kindle Fire is it. There are some bugs. In terms of responsiveness and the accuracy of its touch interface, the Kindle Fire doesn't always live up to Apple iOS devices, but for $199 you're not going to find anything else that has this feature set, and many of the bugs will be fixed by software updates.
Crayola ColorStudio HD: This $29.99 accessory is a digital marker for the iPad, turning the Apple tablet into a virtual coloring book when used in conjunction with a companion app, with music and animations. With the digital marker, kids can do more with the iPad than just play games. They can be color, they can make their own coloring book pages. Input styles include crayons, markers and paint. Features include Facebook sharing and printing through Apple AirPrint.
In this episode we review the Crayola ColorStudio HD. The ColorStudio HD is a battery-powered Crayola stylus that you use alongside the ColorStudio HD iPad app. The device works with the app, making the iPad into an animated coloring book. As you see in the video, once you get the battery into the ColorStudio HD stylus and turn off Finger mode in the app, it's easy to choose the type of coloring utensil you want to use. You get music, sound effects, and animation on the pages
Big thank you to GoToMeeting and JackThreads for sponsoring the show - be sure to check them out! As for JackThreads, we've got exclusive invite codes that give you $5 to use towards anything you'd like.
Apple is set to discount some of its most popular products for Black Friday 2011. No word yet on if the stores are opening early, but you can get all the deals online as well as in-store, which is nice. Discounts on items like the iPad 2, iMac, MacBook Air, and iPod touch are just the tip of the iceberg, as Apple is also discounting a bunch of third-party accessories, including the Jawbone Up. We've got the best of the sale listed after the break, along with links to take you directly to the products!
Griffin Technology and Crayola have teamed up on the ColorStudio HD app and iMarker, and the set is now available nationwide. The cool thing about this is that the app can tell the difference between the swiping and tapping fingers of a child and the iMarker input. There are over 30 animated coloring pages with sound effects and music, and users can also create their own works of art from scratch, and can also use the built in library of assets. Art can even be uploaded directly to Facebook, or printed using AirPrint.
The Crayola ColorStudio HD app is free on the app store, and the iMarker pack is available now for $29.99.
Read More | Crayola ColorStudio HD
Apple‘s program for getting free iPhone 4 cases has officially started today. Earlier this week, Steve Jobs said you’d be able to sign up on the Apple website for your free case, but they’ve made a change that makes the process much easier for the user and much easier for the company to handle. Since the program only applies to the iPhone 4, Apple has released the iPhone 4 Case Program app, which allows you to verify your iPhone 4 eligibility, looks through all the available cases, check up-close photos of each case, and select the one you’d like to have shipped to you. The app has you log into your iTunes account upon launch, so when you check out, it has your name and address info all pre-filled for you. Couldn’t be easier.
Here’s a list of the cases that are available currently. If you wanted the official Apple Bumper Case, they are only offering the black one. All cases are listed as shipping in 3-5 weeks:
- Apple Bumper Case: Black
- Incase Snap Case: Smoke
- Incase Snap Case: Clear
- Belkin Shield Micra: Clear
- Griffin Motif: Diamonds/Smoke
- Griffin Reveal Etch: Black/Black Graphite
- Speck Fitted Case: Black Tartan
- Speck PixelSkin HD
If you’ve already purchased a Bumper Case from Apple, you are eligible for a refund. That’ll happen automatically if you ordered from the Apple Store Online. If you bought it at a physical Apple Store, just head on in with a receipt to claim your refund.
Read More | iPhone 4 Case Program app
Griffin has recently released a minimalist case for the iPhone 3G and 3GS that they call Griffin Reveal. Right, we know what you’re thinking - with all the various iPhone cases out there, what’s so special about this one? Well, for starters, the Griffin Reveal is meant to stay out of the way. It isn’t bulky, and barely adds any thickness to your iPhone. In fact, it just adds 1.4 mm in thickness to the iPhone 3G or 3GS.
Read More | Griffin Reveal
Gallery: Griffin Reveal iPhone case review
The Griffin SmartTalk Bluetooth headset claims to eliminate background noise, and sometimes more importantly, wind noise. We are in the midst of bringing you a full video review of the SmartTalk, which you’ll find over on Bleeding Edge TV, but in the meantime, you can get a look at the device in this episode of Unboxing Live!
We’ve made it clear a few times that we feel that the Zune platform has progressed nicely since it’s inception, especially with the introduction of the Zune Pass, which we feel is the best deal in music today. Definitely something we recommend this holiday season. So much so, in fact, that we have put together a video showing off every Zune device that is currently available, as well as some of the cooler accessories available for the device set. We show off the Zune 80, Zune 120, Gears of War 2 Special Edition Zune, the flash Zunes, and even a Zune Originals piece.
On the accessories side, we give you a look at the Kicker stereo for Zune, a few cases, armbands, car accessories, and the Home A/V Kit. See? Told you we brought the goods to this one. Check out the video for the scoop on everything, and let us know if you end up picking any of it up.
Whether you’re bored with your current iPod case (you do have one, right?), want to liven up a party, or just in dire need of attention, we bring you the oddly-named Disko Case from Griffin. It’s polycarbonate shell protects your player, while colored LED lights surround the click wheel—and blink, flash and chase each other in any of five lighting sequences. Plus, the case is motion-sensitive, so it turns on automatically with movement. Available for the 5G and nano iPods, and also for the Sansa. Available in clear or black for $30 USD.
How many times have you heard a tune on the radio and wish you had snagged it for your iPod, but you missed the opening notes? Wish no more, for Griffin’s recently upgraded Shark 2 acts like a TiVo for your tuner. With a USB connection, the device saves the music through your computer that you can mix later and add to your iTune playlist. You can also set up timed broadcasts with its software and it’s compatible for both PC and Mac.
Available with an antenna extension you also can receive a free edition of Snaptune one, which turns the Shark into a veritable do-all by scheduling, exporting, cataloging, and labeling artist and album information. At a MSRP of $49.99, we think it looks rather gnarly, dude.
Read More | Griffin